Jack Thompson Declines PAX Debate Offer

June 2, 2007 -
A few days back, GamePolitics learned that the Penny Arcade crew was planning an extraordinary event at PAX in late August: a debate involving vitriolic anti-game activist Jack Thompson.

To make an extra splash - and for security reasons - Penny arcade planned not to announce the debate until about an hour before it occurred.

PA's hope was that Thompson's opponent would be someone knowledgable about video games like Entertainment Consumer Association (ECA) president Hal Halpin, or perhaps Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA).

Because negotiations were going on behind the scenes, GP was unable to report on the proposed Thompson debate. Yesterday morning, however, things began to fall apart, supposedly over Thompson's objection to keeping the debate under wraps. Last night Kotaku got hold of the story. In an e-mail circulated to certain media outlets - including GamePolitics, the Miami attorney wrote:
...I would be delighted to do the [debate], but Penny-Arcade's positon that this must be kept "under wraps" and that I cannot tell the media and others about the event is both absurd and troubling. 

For Penny-Arcade to take the position that there must be a news blackout on this strikes me and others as hypocritical to the max.  You guys are the ones who think that even adult entertainment materials should be marketed and sold to children because of "freedom of expression," and yet I am not allowed to tell media and others of this debate?  Come on, how transparently double-standard-bound in your machinations can you all be? 

GP: Thompson consistently twists the position of those who support the First Amendment's application to games into "adult entertainment materials should be marketed and sold to children." This is perfect debate material.
If you want me to come to Seattle and address 6000 hostile people as to why the United States is the only backward nation in the world when it comes to the distribution of adult video games to children, then I will be happy to do it.  But your position that only Penny-Arcade gets to tell the world about this event and in the way that only you all get to decide is patently ridiculous. 

Man up and realize what the First Amendment is really all about, Robert and I'll be happy to celebrate it with all my "admirers" in Seattle, including Gabe.

I've been in far more hostile environs than what you offer.  You all need to grow a pair of what a kid can cut off in Manhunt 2. 

GP: Actually, Thompson really blew it here. Penny Arcade's invitation amounts to a tacit recognition of Miami Jack's high - albeit, negative - profile among gamers. Now that he has blown the lid off the secrecy of the proposed event, we'd like to see it go forward anyway. But Thompson's intransigence may have exhausted the patience of the Penny Arcade guys. 

GP POLL: What do you think about this? Would you like to see the debate go forward? Vote in the GamePolitics Poll on the upper right sidebar.



As usual, Jack's in it for the money, that's why he wants the advertising, he knows that his 'reputation' means that he can profit from meetings like these, so he's just throwing a tantrum because Penny Arcade aren't using massacres for profit, which is Jack's favourite pastime.

Take a look at his behaviour after the VTech shootings, perfectly willing to blame games, but totally unwilling to debate his opinion unless he could make a profit.

Jack Thompson is obviously just looking for trouble. Haha, he is willing to face 6000 people? I don't think he would, unless of course, if he is just signing his death warrant. And honestly speaking, I view Jack Thompson's behavior as aggressive and proud, a concoction of being a pride-arse himself and hypocrisy.

If anyone can contact Jack Thompson, I would like to send him a message, "Please do us a favor and leave us alone for God's sake, your reputation sucks and we hate it."

i like how he describes the would-be audience as "hostile", that goes to show you the guy is scared out of his mind to be around the community of people he takes cheap shots at left and right with nothing to back his claims up.

Is it just me, or is everything this man is invoved in doomed to failure.

Gotta love the use of propaganda in his little missive there. Heaven forbid that the guys at PA, admitted gamers, could ever be worried about the security of well-known game-hater , Jack Thompson. No no. Must be that PA and their child-porn/video game ring must not want to give Jack the spotlight he so desperately wants.

I hope, security issues aside, that they let him announce this as loud as he can. That way, when someone with REAL knowledge about the industry shreds him alive, we can all sit back an d have a good laugh. Hope someone gets it on video, too.

Is anyone really not suprised by this? Jack made it clear when he declined his debate with Jason Della Rocca that he's only in it for the money and publicity. And when he can't dictate the terms of his appearance, he throws a hissyfit and cries his First Amendment rights *snicker* are being violated.

It's been established in our own earliest attempts at dialogue with him that Jack has never respected gamers and never will give them the time of day. So in his mind, why should he even appear at a place where he can't even dictate his own terms in front of a bunch of people whom he equates with Barbarians and Neanderthals? (Although like everyone else, it would be great to read the headline "Controversial Attorney Gunned Down at Convention"). The fact that his own son is a gamer seems to elude him.

It isn't that the ECA doesn't have the balls to take him on. It's just that they don't have the manpower or the resources at the moment. They're still embryonic at this stage and the right opportunity hasn't presented itself yet. I'm sure Hal Halpin has been dying to make a move against him. In fact, I plan on joining this weekend with the intention of representing my own state. I'd love nothing more than the opportunity to defend my hobby which I'm passionate about.

LOL he made a Manhunt 2 joke.

Such a sad asshole he was, I wish there was never a person like him in this world. It just makes me feel ashamed to be part of the human race. What a bummer.

It seems odd that PA would dump the plans to debate even with the attention or not. What harm could come out of it? Larger media outlets get their crap together and appear on the day? Having Jack Thompson, the man who talked about VTech being inspired by violent games, debating someone from the games industry on video game violence, would most certainly make for an excellent news piece. Might even attract some attention to Jack's hypocrisies.

Honestly, what is the worst that could have happened? Lots of people turn up to PAX wanting to hear Thompson argue his way into a corner?

If anything, Thompson now has more misconstrued kindling to throw onto his bonfire. :/

I'm not inclined to care if JT did or didn't agree to debate - but the fact that he's grandstanding and taking a swipe at PA and gamers is pretty absurd. The stipulation that the debate be kept under wraps was part of the deal that was to be made. If you can't strike a deal you like, JT, you can walk away from it - no one was forcing you into a debate that you didn't like. But that doesn't mean you're right, they're wrong, and you get to grandstand about it. Business deals fail to be struck all the time, chief, there's no need to assume you're special and the victim just because not everyone in the world agrees with you.

JT likes to consider himself to be the David to the industry's Goliath. Does he ever realize - does anyone ever realize - that if this were true, it would only be because JT is trying to set up his own Goliaths to fight. JT picks fights with larger organizations than himself and cries about how he was victimized when he loses. Learn to pick your battles. When you keep picking losing fights just so you can't talk about how unfairly you were treated in your defeat, that doesn't make you a martyr, it makes you a jerk.

Yet more idiocy from a man who should grow a pair of those he so mentioned, and put up instead of back down.


i doubt it. unless he is psychic or is secretly one of the developers of the game.

I don't know whether to cry or cheer.

Does he have any proof that you can cut off the testicles of an NPC in Manhunt 2?

We gamers and the billion dollar game industry will never lose to nincompoops like Jack Thompson. I think that Jack will be the one to grow a pair so that we can really slice off once we the game industry face-to-face in the courtroom.

So, basically, PA wanted to keep it secret for security reasons, Jack spilled the beans, and PA canceled it? Or, in other words, they think that that gamers will lynch Jack or something and prove him right?

There's a chicken-or-the-egg metaphor there somewhere..

I actually took the liberty to take a second look at it and this quote just captivated my attention,

" If you want me to come to Seattle and address 6000 hostile people as to why the United States is the only backward nation in the world when it comes to the distribution of adult video games to children, then I will be happy to do it. But your position that only Penny-Arcade gets to tell the world about this event and in the way that only you all get to decide is patently ridiculous.

Man up and realize what the First Amendment is really all about, Robert and I’ll be happy to celebrate it with all my “admirers” in Seattle, including Gabe.

I’ve been in far more hostile environs than what you offer. You all need to grow a pair of what a kid can cut off in Manhunt 2." - Jack Thompson

A person whose reputation has been damaged into a big hole still willing to address to the 6000 hostile people as to why United States is the backward nation when it comes to distributing adult video games to minors? I hope he is kidding, otherwise he will be crazy to sign his death warrant if he accepts to challenge 6000 people.

And oh as for the First Amendment Rights, we can man ourselves up without Jack Thompson's help. Because you know why? His help and promises are just worthless, not to mention that we gamers have a better knowledge of how First Amendment Rights works (although I am not a American, but I have read the First Amendment Rights) than Jack Thompson. Don't believe me? Let's compare how our vision of First Amendment Rights is, (note: Please correct the following if I am wrong or give any extra points if I am missing out any, thanks)

Gamers (us) vision of First Amendment Rights,

1. Respect the person's (both individual or non-individual) speech and action.

2. Respect the freedom of a person's choice unless if it is a illegal choice which will be severely punished by the law.

3. We must not take the First Amendment Rights for granted and abusing it which also can be punishable by the law.

Jack Thompson's vision of the law (who thinks he knows what First Amendment is all about),

1. To abuse it by turning it to either offend or insult the person (either individual or non-individual)

2. There is no need for the Amendment to survive.

3. To restrict people's freedom of speech (then of course, free speech is part of First Amendment which of course the simpleton wants it to be destroyed for good)

So you see, gaming friends, it is obvious that this nincompoop lawyer is just gaining attention by lying that he knows everything about the First Amendment, so listen to the wise words of America's wisest late president Abraham Lincoln,

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time." - Abraham Lincoln

Jack, the fact of the matter is that conventions like this don’t have the kind of money to hire security for such controversial people as yourself.

Sure they do. All he needs is hired muscle for a few hours, and that isn't too expensive. If he required armed guards, it would be a different story.

I think it was supposed to be a suprise. lets face it though it would be daft to give JT any money of to facilitate his insanity so im glad its not going to happen.

No matter how badly he got his ass handed to him in a debate he'd claim victory.

He has a wimp-lo outlook on life (for understanding of that you'll have to watch the movie kung-pow: enter the fist)

mr thompson we feel sorry for you being the caged bird in front of big bad penny arcade so i here by boycott all knowlage of this haynice comic from my head with this M1 gerand.[points and shoots]

dude go back to attacking wendys. or maybe the people at PAX felt that they didn't want THIS to happen to you before the event? its called tact. dude if i were you id keep my mouth shut and go along and do the damn thing cause you flame is running out and you need to grab ALL the attention you can.

What the hell is his problem?? This would have generated enough media coverage afterwards anyway, so that should be the last thing he has to worry about. The security issue should be much more of his concern, since a very late announcement gives less gamer nuts the chance to plan any attacks (both verbal and physical) and to print anti Thompson shirts and banners. But no, the crazy egomaniac he is he'd rather have all the media coverage beforehand, not thinking about the consequences and the (more) negative coverage afterwards.

As far as I have heard (or read) on other sites, the reason that the event was kept under wraps leading up to it was that the PA guys knew there would be massive interest in it, but were concerned about overcrowding where the event would take place. Even at the last minute, there would still have been enough people to fill the hall where it would occur.

This concern for people's safety and responsibility on behalf of the organisers has been turned around by this liar and used as his excuse to chicken out of the debate. When he can't choose who he is up against, he gets very scared. So far that is 3 debates (to my knowledge) he has bailed on due to differing excuses each time, the gamer lawyer Tom Buscl...(can't remember the spelling, apologies!), Jason Della Rocca and now another person who knows what they are talking about. When he did debate someone it was an author of a book who actually agreed with Thompson on some issues, so it wasn't so much a debate as a chat where he got to put forward his ideas!

"You guys are the ones who think that even adult entertainment materials should be marketed and sold to children because of “freedom of expression,”"

More lies, borderline slander maybe. NO-ONE thinks that adult entertainment should be sold to, marketed towards, or consumed by young children or anyone of inappropriate age. We do however think that this adult entertainment has a right to be sold, to be marketed and be consumed by those of an appropriate age. The problem is parents and the huge amount of people who see video games as children's toys and do not realise that there are some for kids, and some for older people, just like movies/books/music/art/etc.

* he wouldn’t be worth the bad press anyway

We still need an edit feature on these comments

Does this man even listen to himself anymore?

Did it never occur to him that with as much anger and hatred as he himself created in the game community, he would understand the need to avoid rousing the ire of a group of people already predisposed to hating him. Bad enough that he doesn't even realize that he's the cause of it, but to not understand that it's even there?

God damn he's a moron. I honestly wonder if it might be better in the long run if he showed up and got staked. Sure, some serious bad press for Pax among the MSM, but the game community would worship them forever as the men responsible for ending jacks stupidity. Lets face it, the ECA and the ESA don't have the balls to take him out through legal channels, maybe this is what has to happen.

you know, scratch that, he wouldn't be other the bad press anyway. Still, it pisses me off that this man even has a license. One would think that with all the ammo he handed the industry over the years, they'd have ended him long long ago in court.

Oh well. Personally, I hope he stays far away from Pax, last thing they need is to have a man who so wrecks of death at there show. Lets face it, this man makes a career out of chasing death to push his agenda, the stench of it has got to be soaked into him by now.

Thanks for being a grand world class douche jack, hope your get your license pulled and a major lawsuit handed to you one day. But I'm fairly sure I speak for most of the game community when I say.


Basically, what he's saying is that he won't go because he can't turn it into a circus, because he'll only be able to preach to an audience that mostly hates him to begin with rather than millions of people through the press and TV. In a nutshell, he's obviously a coward.

can someone please tell me how these games are marketed to children?

Ugh. I can barely stand to read his statements these days. If he were to just show up and do it he may end up getting some positive gaming press (I'd be impressed that he just shows up at PAX!).

Jack, the fact of the matter is that conventions like this don't have the kind of money to hire security for such controversial people as yourself.

"If you want me to come to Seattle and address 6000 hostile people as to why the United States is the only backward nation in the world when it comes to the distribution of adult video games to children, then I will be happy to do it. But your position that only Penny-Arcade gets to tell the world about this event and in the way that only you all get to decide is patently ridiculous.

Man up and realize what the First Amendment is really all about, Robert and I’ll be happy to celebrate it with all my “admirers” in Seattle, including Gabe.

I’ve been in far more hostile environs than what you offer. You all need to grow a pair of what a kid can cut off in Manhunt 2. "

English Translation:
I'm afraid to have my ass handed to me in front of a crowd of 6000. The only way to defend myself is to miscontrue the protection of the first amendment in order to defend my inane actions. I can no longer legally attack Take-Two and it's products so I will also take a swipe at that before I stop spewing out pure stupidity on the internet.

"…I would be delighted to do the [debate], but Penny-Arcade’s positon that this must be kept “under wraps” and that I cannot tell the media and others about the event is both absurd and troubling. "

Such a media-w#$%^

Haha... I think debating with Jack Thompson is pretty easy, it's just like taking a candy from a baby.

"Man up and realize what the First Amendment is really all about, Robert and I’ll be happy to celebrate it with all my “admirers” in Seattle, including Gabe."

He has admirers? Ha, I bet he is lying through his teeth. I suspect the only "admirers" he have are mental patients and anti-game fools like him.

Not suprising at all. He can't take the heat, so he backs out.

"If you want me to come to Seattle and address 6000 hostile people as to why the United States is the only backward nation in the world when it comes to the distribution of adult video games to children"

Is he kidding me? Europe has pornography out in plain viewing in street side shops (Im not speculating, ive been quite a bit around Europe), and plenty of other random nudity and violence in plain sight and well as its own violent games and movies. Japan has adult manga and others readily accessible, and although not sold to kids, hentai games about all over the place that makes the most violent games we have look like a Care Bear game. America is probably one of the most conservative nations in the world in regards to sex and violence. Jack Thompson never has his facts straight, but trying to say how degraded America is really is quite an insult to the American public.

What a wuss.

Has JT ever explicitlly stated his interpretation of the First Amendment? All I recall is him say ing that it was not absolute, but never really elaborated on it.

Actually, I doubt that Jack would be willing to die or even get a paper-cut to prove his point. He's a coward. He's not willing to truely defend his position.

@ Clyde Wyman

Lots of people e-mail Jack. I wouldn't waste your time. First, he won't even address your points. So any and all arguements are wasted on the man. Second, he'll just insult you somehow. From what I've read the common response is "Shut the hell up you gamer trash. I'm a warrior of God. I won't waste my time praying for you."

Oh, and Jack is a father. He claims his son is a "little Jack". Yet, Jack admitted that when he went to Lacross Camp he said he wouldn't tell anyone who his father is.

Its unconstitiional to ask someone to keep a secret? Wow. thats awesome! No one has to obey NDA's and classified information is free for all! You heard it from Jacko folks. Making someone keep a secret goes againts what this country was founded on, damnit.

Jack Thompson is a joke. I can't see why anyone is really taking this guy seriously anymore. All of his attempts to attack videogames have failed, he nearly ruined his own career in his bout against Take-Two Rockstar concerning the release of Bully. The judge in the case found Thompson to be a nutcase and gave his own misgivings about the man after the case ended. All of Thompson's allegations are incredibly false and are incredibly far-fetched as well (i.e. Wendy's supports murder, Halo - god mode trains snipers). I think if anything the gaming community should expose him for the fraudlent psycho he is, I don't believe that there is any reasoning with Thompson. I also believe that he has ulterior motives, I think this whole anti-videogame thing is a ruse. He's probably after either money or fame, and this is his way of accomplishing that.

this just in lawyers cause violence !! ban them all!! (my proof a normal quiet person like shakespeare once wrote "kill all the lawyers") therefore the lawyers turned shakespeare violent

"Has JT ever explicitlly stated his interpretation of the First Amendment? All I recall is him say ing that it was not absolute, but never really elaborated on it."

It's absolute when it applies to him, and that's it.

@ Cullarn

While JT wasn't around when Shakespeare wrote, "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," you can't deny he makes for a convincing argument in favor of it.;)


That jack and is tomfoolery!

Tune in next week to see what jack does next!

I vote "No." I don't think lining Jack's pockets is in any way a positive move, and he will not debate for free.

As a volunteer for PAX (the Enforcers), I am glad he's not going to be there. PA made the right choice. He blew the lid, and it was for his safety. On top of that, it would have ruined all the rest of PAX. All anyone would be focusing would have been his appearance. And I have no want to deal with that. On top of the fact that its likely all us Enforcers would have been required to keep an eye on him. Most of us are pretty sure he simply blew the secret to get out of going and try to make PA look bad. The man is a looney.


Glad to hear your work load will be lessend. At least SOME good came out of this. You don't have ot keep gamers from hurting him, and you don't have to keep him from damaging property.

As much as i respect Penny Arcade's work in attempting to set up this event, i dont think it would really work. Thompson outwardly disrespects the gaming community. He's not satisfied to take an informed political stance, he resorts to taunting and insults. For instance, I am a little confused by PA's position to keep the debate secret, though im sure they had their reasons. Instead of politely declining the offer, Thompson chose to make a loud fuss about it, including a veiled reference to growing testicles. This is the man claiming moral authority?

My default position on Thompson is to be the bigger man. I need not remind you that he (to my knowledge) has yet to litigate a successful case against the gaming industry, can no longer take action against Take Two, and his efforts have only landed him in hot water with the Florida Bar Association. Though to be fair, I havent heard any 2 Live Crew records lately.

If I were paying to attend PAX, I certainly wouldnt spend my time there watching this man hurl insults at a pastime the event is meant to celebrate. It would be equivalent to inviting Frederic Wertham to a Comic Convention. And in the end, Thompson's noise will be equivalent to Wertham's.

Man, do I hate to do this but I agree with Thompson.

Think about it from his perspective, whether you like it or not. His mission is to get his word out that video games are evil. He is not here to convince you of his opinion. He is here to ensure that you hear his opinion.

And a secret debate simply does not accomplish his goals. he needs this to public. he needs to be publicized well ahead of time. Having a debate sprung on 6,000 unsuspecting PAX-goers one hour ahead of time does nothing to move Thompson's agenda forward.

It was right of him to refuse the offer as presented.


No, it was, again, for his safety. He is not well liked at all, obviously, by the gaming community. Especially by gamers nerdy enough to attend an event like PAX. (I'm flying across the country just to volunteer, if thats any indication.) By announcing it ahead of time, it allowed for those possibly looney violent gamers that DO exist to make the trip out to PAX to try & pull some stunt, therefore fortifying his arguement against games. By surprising the attendees, no one would have time to plan or make any kind of attempt to hurt him or whatever. Worst case would have been a theatre full of booing gamers hurling insults. By announcing it and still going ahead, that would have made things ten times worse. Again, I'm really really really glad that PA decided not to go ahead & do it.

Jack Thompson is NOT some free speech martyr, and he doesn't deserve to come to PAX. End of story.

If I was in the position the guys at Penny Arcade are in i would probably react by telling him "well you just can just fuck off then if you don't want to come".

But I'm not Penny Arcade - and I hope they can avoid bringing negative publicity down on Penny Arcade and video gamers by over-reacting. If they can convince Jack Thompson to go through with the debate and argue well enough (while avoiding the worst of Thompson's bullshit and fallacies) then it could be a good thing publicly for video games in the States, as it will no doubt be publicized on the web by Penny Arcade fans attending the con :)

I doubt it will happen - so far Jack Thompson has successfully dodged all of these kinds of things video gamers have tried to convince him to do - to engage in public debate and openness etc. I think he'll stick to underhand tactics and nonsense, both of which he'll use to avoid attending the PA con.


The debate was going ot be seen by 6000 people not to mention then filter out all over the internet in less than 24 hours, we all know that. Sure it may not as many as he would like there are lots of other issues such as security, attendance capacities to name a few. the PA guys are not out of line for wanting to keep it A. a surprise B. to consider the safety of all the attendees there. You are right in saying it was his right to refuse the agree to the terms of the conditions of which the debate was going to be held. Problem is he is making it a free speech issue when in reality that's not the case. It's an issue of a NDA. HE chose to turn it down. He was more concerned with is time in front of the news organizations than handling his issue, once word got out on this there would have be 100s of videos of this debate on the internet in less than 12 hours, screw that less than 6..

The United States is REALLY big on censorship. The parents of America are downright lazy. I mean, the media shouldn't be the ones teaching the kids. Is the parents job to teach their children real from fiction. If a parent buys a M rated game for a 7 year old. That's their fault. Not the gaming industry. I wick Jack would get that through his fucking head.

You guys are idiots. Jack is right, he was walking into a massacre and wanted his side of the story told, which definitely would not happen based on all of the comments on this page. He wanted 'real' news media there, not 'game' news media... Totally different things.
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